Above: Thetford Town’s Chelsea Page ponders her team’s next move at Bungay Town. Photo: Darrell Allen.
Bungay Town 2-1 Thetford Town
By Darrell Allen (25/1/22)
After the proud performance of Thetford Town in the Norfolk Women’s Cup Quarter Final last week against Wymondham Town last week, losing 6-1 but holding Norfolk’s best and most in-form team for 55 minutes who are running away with the lead in the Step Five Eastern Region Premier Division.
The cup theme continued this weekend as Quarter Final weekend arrived in the Norfolk Women’s and Girls League Cup Quarter Final. The competition sees teams involved from the Norfolk Women’s and Girls League Division One and Division Two (Steps Seven and Eight of the Pyramid).
The weekend’s ties saw Division One leaders Mulbarton Belles host Vikings Valkyries from Division Two, Fakenham Town welcomed Long Stratton to Clipbush Park in an all Division One clash and University of East Anglia (UEA) were also proudly representing Division Two as they travelled to Division One Stalham Town. A round-up of those matches to come but this week our featured match is the one remaining Quarter-Final as Thetford Town were on the road at Bungay Town in an all Division One affair between two top teams at Maltings Meadow.
This was a cup tie to relish for both teams as we arrived at Maltings Meadow shortly before midday to a friendly welcome from Bungay Town Manager Mark Fogarty who is someone who is very highly regarded in the Norfolk game and always makes a special effort to be friendly.
Many of the Bungay Town players also greeted us with a smile and a hello on arrival which is a nice touch and the mood around the ground was very positive with many kids matches going on at the several pitches at Maltings Meadow when you visit you always know you are at a special football facility.
After the high of that performance against Wymondham Town, Thetford Town travelled to Bungay Town with a mixture of COVID, injury, illness and other absence meaning their squad had a different look and feel about it from a week ago. That didn’t dampen the mood though with David Skipp and Stuart Terry extremely upbeat in the build-up about the team’s chances and the motivational team talk they gave the girls was very special.
Thetford Town have recently launched a partnership with Her Game Too and assistant manager Stuart Terry was sporting his Her Game Too hoodie and #HGT gloves as he warmed up goalkeeper Lydia Ward.
In terms of the squad, 12 players were available to David Skipp with the one sub new signing Chloe Bentick. Both teams were busy warming up ahead of the 1.00pm kick off and around 12.50pm both teams suddenly realized that there was no referee present. We were not going to be kicking off on time. Referee Lorraine Catchpole arrived at 1.10pm.
The official genuinely believed she was arriving for a 1.30pm kick-off. The powers that be need to do better with logistics to ensure match officials coming from a morning fixture are not under pressure for time. I know we are short of match officials and appreciate the work of all our great match officials in Norfolk and beyond but what happened yesterday was not fair on either Bungay Town, Thetford Town, or Lorraine Catchpole and we need to ensure there is no repeat moving forward.
After that development, drama then struck for the already depleted Thetford squad of 12 as Rebecca White failed the pre-match checks from Lorraine Catchpole due to a jewellery issue despite doing her best to make sure this was secure. That meant the Thetford Town squad became 11 meaning no subs and David Skipp turned around to Chloe Bentick who went from a sub to starting in a matter of seconds. After all that we eventually kicked off at 1.26pm.
It was a bright start from Thetford Town as Chloe Bentick put the Bungay Town defense under pressure, Chelsea Page also had a chance but it came to nothing.
Melissa Boulton blasted over the bar in a lively start for the visitors. Crisis struck in the 10th minute as a game-changing moment led to Rachel Lynch coming off for Thetford Town due to a knee injury that will probably see her out for the next couple of weeks.
More importantly in the immediate future, it meant 80 minutes to play with just 10 players for David Skipp’s team.
The task at hand was now going to be extraordinarily tough as Bungay ramped up the pressure with several chances, Lucy Eagle was involved in most of their positive creativity which was to be expected following a blistering run of form with 14 goals in her last four games.
Despite promising attacking play, Bungay was getting little joy as they were met by a commanding Lydia Ward in the Thetford goal whose confidence and personal belief in herself is growing week after week and denying Wymondham Town on several occasions last week meant she had the confident figure needed for this battle ahead.
As well as a commanding presence in goal, Dayna Howard was also here, there, and everywhere, clearing balls, sweeping things up, and genuinely being the rock needed in the backline alongside the ever-reliable captain Sausha Levy-Twomey. David Skipp had to reshuffle following Lynch coming off injured and it was the commanding voices of Levy-Twomey and Howard that were key in this performance.
Bungay Town wanted to seize their moment but Lydia Ward denied Lucy Eagle again before Howard again cleared the danger. Thetford Town knew Bungay had not taken their opportunity and this gave the girls confidence and belief.
A huge rallying cry from Melissa Boulton as belief from the Thetford 10 continued to grow, this brought Abbie Corbyn alive with some lightning runs which we all know she can do before she was taken out on 25 minutes when Bungay realized she started to become a threat.
Lydia Ward continued to stand in the way of a determined Bungay Town but the Thetford 10 were determined to get to the break level. The Thetford 10 became nine as Captain Levy-Twomey was booked before being sent to the sin bin meaning just nine players for the visitors to try and see out the first half.
Bungay Town had a free-kick that came to nothing and it was a very positive end to the half as the nine players of Thetford saw the final few minutes through to see the score goalless at the break.
A rallying half-time team talk by David Skipp over and a big second-half battle began
with Courtney Musgrove being taken out so hard it reduced her to tears which is never nice to see. The hosts then took a deserved lead when form lady Lucy Eagle slotted home to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
Levy-Twomey was re introduced following her sin bin and Thetford was back up to 10.
The belief and confidence of Thetford grew and Melissa Boulton had a glorious opportunity but fired over. Courtney Musgrove was noticeably struggling but the brave 10 hearts of Thetford carried on in the battle. Amy Skipp put in a great cross but came to nothing.
Bungay knew they had to wake up and did, a couple of absolute sitters missed and Lydia Ward in the Thetford goal continued to stand up to everything well.
Zoe Klimcke produced a great tackle as Bungay was determined to seal their semi-final place.
The reward for the Thetford heroism came on 70 minutes when Chloe Bentick got a debut goal to level the scores and spark jubilant scenes. Maybe just maybe something special was going to happen?
The final 20 minutes saw an onslaught from Bungay which needed an incredible block from Sausha Levy-Twomey and another from Melissa Boulton.
Just as it looked like we were heading for a penalty shootout to decide things, Bungay got a penalty themselves in the 88th minute which sadly Melissa Boulton gave away and Selina Rowland stepped up to convert and send the hosts into the semi-final with a 2-1 win.
Verdict: Just like the Wymondham Town game last week another brilliant cup occasion where everyone is a winner. Bungay Town will be delighted to reach the semi-finals and congratulations to Mark Fogarty and his team. The heroism from Thetford Town with 10 players for 80 minutes and nine players for a period and the performance that was produced meant everyone ended this occasion smiling.
Despite being out of two cups Thetford Town has produced two wonderful performances which will only fill David Skipp and Stuart Terry full of confidence for the league games ahead. These teams will be well acquainted with each other with the two league fixtures between the two sides set to take place on 6th February at Thetford and back at Bungay Town on 20th February.
Thetford POTM: Dayna Howard and Lydia Ward joint this week.
Next up for Thetford Town is a return to league action in the Norfolk Women’s and Girls League Division One when Fakenham Town visits Mundford Road on Sunday 30th January at 2.00pm.
Teams: BUNGAY TOWN from: Adams, Eagle, Fatman, Foster, Moore, O’Connor, Riggall, Rowland, Sergio, StuddWebb.
Scorers: Eagle, Rowland (pen).
THETFORD TOWN: Ward (GK), Skipp, Klimcke, Musgrove, Lynch, Levy-Twomey, Corbyn, Howard, White, Boulton, Page, Bentick (Started after White was withdrawn).
Referee: Lorraine Catchpole.
In the day’s other three ties, Mulbarton Belles beat Vikings Valkyries 17-1. The tie of the round saw Fakenham Town and Long Stratton share six goals in a brilliant 3-3 draw which saw Fakenham Town then win 5-4 on penalties. UEA were the heroes of the day beating Division One Stalham Town 4-2 after extra time. Best wishes to Bungay Town, Mulbarton Belles, Fakenham Town, and UEA for the Semi-Finals.